How to Choose the Best Rubber Seals for Your Applications
Seemingly small and insignificant, rubber seals play an integral role in many manufacturing industries, including medical, aerospace, food and automotive. Choosing the right one can make a difference between loss of fluids, delays in the supply chain and faulty products on one hand and smooth manufacturing on the other.
Let’s look at how you can make the right choice when deciding on a rubber seal for your manufacturing applications.
To be able to scope all of the crucial characteristics of a rubber seal, you should first define what it is exactly the seal should do and under what conditions. For example, seals used in medical devices are exposed to various chemicals and need to be sterilized, while seals used in aerospace or car manufacturing need to endure high temperatures and wide ranges of pressure. Therefore, it’s crucial to take all factors into consideration before settling on a specific type of seal.
Some of the factors that should be taken into account are:
- High temperature and pressure exposure
- Friction level
- Chemical contact
- Required certifications
Once all of the important factors have been identified and duly considered, it’s time to dive into the composition.
With rubber seals, almost everything comes down to the material they’re made of. Some of the most common materials rubber seals are made of are:
- Nitrile rubber. Economical choice for o-rings and seals that are in touch with oil. Widely used in the oil and gas industry, for off-road equipment and for military applications.
- EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer). Cost-effective and durable for outdoor use. Suitable for auto industry, in braking and cooling systems.
- Silicone. Compatible with FDA regulations and can withstand a wide range of temperatures, from -150 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. Often used when manufacturing pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics and food.
- Virgin Teflon. Suitable for very low temperatures. Applicable for MRI machines and equipment used in space.
- Chloroprene or Neoprene. Usually used in refrigerators and freezers since it’s resistant to Freon and ammonia.
- Fluorocarbon (Viton). High-performance elastomer, especially when exposed to high temperatures and pressure, corrosion and harsh chemicals. It is ideal for the medical, automotive and aerospace industries.
- Flexible PVC. Strong and durable yet lightweight. Resistant to outdoor conditions, oil, grease and chemicals, making it ideal for automotive industry.
- ManniGlas and FiberFrax. Designed for extremely high temperatures (up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for ManniGlas, and up to 2,450 degrees for FiberFrax).
If you’re looking for a seal that can be used in medical, cosmetic or food applications, then you must also look into the impurities of the sealing material, as they can leak and cause contamination. Therefore, in these highly regulated industries, sealing material mustn’t contain toxic or potentially carcinogenic impurities.
When choosing a rubber seal manufacturer, you should inquire about their reputation, manufacturing methods and reliability in delivery. Most of all, you should choose someone whose expertise you could rely on.
The rubber seal manufacturer should advise you on the choice of material based on not only the factors mentioned above, but also taking into consideration required regulations and certifications, whether a seal will need to be sterilized, which materials can work well when combined, etc.
Look for a reputable, experienced manufacturer to help you decide on the right o-ring material for you and supply the seal in a reliable manner.
Having a wide choice of sealing materials is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, there’s a variety of options to suit every application out there; on the other, with so many options it can be difficult to choose the optimal one. By partnering with a knowledgeable supplier, you can rely on their expertise to guide you towards the ideal rubber seal for your specific requirements.